Thursday, March 19, 2009

Gainey and Putin: Twins!

As I scrolled through the sports section of the on-line edition of The Globe & Mail yesterday, I noticed the following photo:

"What the hell!" I exclaimed to myself. "Vladimir Putin is coaching a hockey team?"

I then looked at the caption and realized that the photo is of Bob Gainey. Bob Gainey! Wow, he doesn't look anything like the Bob Gainey I recall from when I was living in Montreal and Gainey was playing for the Canadiens. In fact, he doesn't look anything like the post-Habs Gainey in management roles either.

If you're not sure about my confusion, check out the following photo of Vladimir Putin talking to some Russian miners:

Eerie, isn't it!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

"Simply The Best"--Canadian Style!

I was quite the guy "back in the day" earlier this decade when I was a senior associate running billion dollar M&A transactions. When my young assistant asked me in her Brooklyn accent what my personal theme song was, I responded without hesitation: "Simply the Best, baby, you know--that Tina Turner song!" My assistant and all of the other assistants in the area roared with laughter. From that point on, any time I was feeling self-congratulatory, I would look around feigning bewilderment and ask: "Hey, can anybody else hear that Tina Turner song?"

Needing a little motivation the other day, I went to YouTube and typed in "Tina Turner" and "Simply the Best." As I relived my former glory watching the video, my eyes shifted to the related videos on the right side of the screen. I noticed a version of the song by Celine Dion. I actually like Celine Dion but I wasn't expecting her to do much with "Simply the Best."

Boy, was I wrong! Celine does a great job! Check out the video for yourself here:

Now, wasn't that something!

Smile And Dial!

I spent the month of May and the first two weeks of June 1987 hanging out in Montreal and taking one summer-school finance class at McGill.

The finance class didn't take up that much time so I took a part-time job at the Montreal Gazette selling subscriptions over the phone. I knew going in that it would be an absolutely brutal job. However, I was only planning to do it for four weeks and I figured that learning to cold call people might be a handy skill to have later in life.

As I expected, the job was agonizing. I thought that the Montreal Gazette might provide some sort of training. It didn't. When we arrived in the morning, a scrawny assistant manager with feathered hair and a cheesy, wispy little moustache would hand us a list of names and telephone numbers. Once we were seated, the manager, a grossly overweight bald guy in his early forties, would stand among the bank of phones to report on the prior day's results. Of course, they were never good enough. After beating us down, the manager would offer us some words of encouragement. He'd end each speech the same way--bellowing: "SMILE AND DIAL!"

Although I detested the job, I was right about the experience teaching me not to fear the phone. Any time I find myself hesitating to call a prospective client, I just think of the fat manager at the Montreal Gazette, laugh a little and then yell: "SMILE AND DIAL!" It works every time.